Mayoral hopeful Gery Chico, fresh off endorsements from both the Chicago police and fire unions, pledged this afternoon to find $200 million during his first term in office to hire 2,000 new police officers.
For a city that's stared down deficits of $520 million and $655 million during its last two budget cycles and shed thousands of non-public safety employees since Mayor Richard Daley took office, this is an ambitious promise. Chico spokeswoman Brooke Anderson argued that the price tag is within the city's reach. "He thinks it'll match about 3 percent of the budget," she said. Chico's crime plan -- you can read it here -- talks about making public safety a "budget priority" by identifying efficiencies and eliminating "unnecessary bureaucracy"; but no specifics are detailed. Daley's last spending plan, by way of comparison, allocated money to hire 200 new officers, a number not expected to keep up with attrition in the department.
Chico recently released a new TV ad on crime in the city. Watch:
Chico's public safety platform does not discuss the officer redeployment plan current police superintendent Jody Weis has said he will unveil. Chico's against redeployment. "People don't want that. They want the right amount of police on the streets," he said on the radio earlier this year. Other mayoral candidates, like Rahm Emanuel, also oppose shifting officers from lower to higher-crime areas. The police department said most violent and property crime categories it tracks fell last year versus 2009. But specific parts of the city, in recent years, have been hit disproportionately hard by violent incidents like homicide.